Notre Dame (6-0) at Michigan State (5-1)
When: Thursday, November 30th 2017
Where: Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Michigan State -5.5/136.5
Two teams coming off impressive tournament runs will play the final game of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Thursday night as the Michigan State Spartans host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Spartans went 3-0 en route to winning the PK80 Invitational Bracket by an average of 20 points, while the Fighting Irish will have had a week off since taking the Maui Invitational with a victory over Wichita State in the championship game. The Irish have been winning thanks in part to a suffocating defense that has held opponents to 60.2 points per game, 37.7% shooting and 29.1% 3-point shooting – all top 40 national rankings. Offensively, the Irish have one of the top players in the country in senior forward Bonzie Colson, who leads the team in scoring (20.0), rebounding (10.5) and blocks (2.3). Michigan State’s offense features all five starters averaging in double figures, led by forwards Miles Bridges (15.2 points, 6.8 rebounds) and Nick Ward (13.8 points, 6.3 rebounds). Guards Joshua Langford (13.7 points) and Cassius Winston (12.2 points, 7.6 assists) stepped up at the PK80, with Winston setting a career-high with 28 points in the semifinals and Langford scoring a career-high 23 in the title game win over North Carolina.
The Irish made a big second half comeback against Wichita State, erasing a 14-point halftime deficit, but that was a neutral-site game – it may be tougher to come back in East Lansing. Guard Matt Farrell played extremely well in Maui, earning tournament MVP honors, and is averaging 17.5 points and 4.3 assists. Senior forward Martinas Geben had back-to-back double-figure scoring games for the first time in his career in the Irish’s last two games, scoring 10 against LSU followed by a career-high-matching 12 against Wichita State. Notre Dame is averaging only 8.7 turnovers a game and shooting 52.8% from the field – seventh-best in the country. If the Irish can get by the Spartans tonight, they’ll probably end up 13-0 by the time ACC play begins.
The Spartans may have blown out the defending champion Tar Heels, but they’ll need to cut down on the 24 turnovers they committed in that game if they want to succeed this year. The Spartans are averaging 16.5 turnovers a game, while playing a starting lineup of four sophomores and a freshman. The Spartans defense, which ranks second in the country in field goal percentage (33.8), held North Carolina to just 24.6% shooting for the game, the lowest percentage in school history. The Spartans’ depth may be helped by the return of junior F Kenny Goins, who could be back after missing the last four games with a sprained knee.
I have to take the points in this one. Notre Dame doesn’t turn the ball over, while the Spartans are having trouble in that category. Michigan State has a good team, but they’re still young. I like this Notre Dame squad, and I can see them as a Final Four team.
Pick: Notre Dame +6.5
- Fighting Irish are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Fighting Irish are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Fighting Irish are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a ATS win.
- Fighting Irish are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Big Ten.
- Fighting Irish are 21-7 ATS in their last 28 Thursday games.
- Fighting Irish are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Fighting Irish are 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 road games.
- Fighting Irish are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Spartans are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Spartans are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 home games.
- Spartans are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 vs. Atlantic Coast.
- Spartans are 42-20-2 ATS in their last 64 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.
- Spartans are 37-18-1 ATS in their last 56 Thursday games.
- Under is 7-1-1 in Fighting Irish last 9 games following a straight up win.
- Under is 5-1-1 in Fighting Irish last 7 overall.
- Under is 5-1-1 in Fighting Irish last 7 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
- Under is 5-1 in Fighting Irish last 6 non-conference games.
- Under is 5-1-1 in Fighting Irish last 7 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
- Under is 4-1-1 in Fighting Irish last 6 road games.
- Under is 4-1-1 in Fighting Irish last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Under is 4-1-1 in Fighting Irish last 6 games following a ATS win.
- Under is 8-1 in Spartans last 9 Thursday games.
- Over is 7-1 in Spartans last 8 vs. Atlantic Coast.
- Under is 4-1 in Spartans last 5 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.